Changes in the Arctic environment due to climate change could have knock-on effects in Europe and the rest of the world.
As well as directly affecting the region’s environment, ecosystems, economy and inhabitants, a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) suggests melting ice and increasing pollution could permanently change the Arctic’s role as a ‘climate regulator’.
The report suggests increased temperatures would be likely to result in the release of greenhouse gases frozen in ice and soil and said melting ice added to rising sea levels.
It warned this caused damage to migrating species, allowed the introduction of invasive species and even changed weather in Europe due to meltwater disrupting ocean currents.
However, the report adds the EU and its Member States can also play a positive role, by striving to mitigate impacts from climate change and pollution, improving health and living standards in the region and strengthening knowledge about the region’s ecosystem to boost its resilience.
It also suggests reducing imports of natural resources from the region by transitioning to a circular economy, advancing the sustainable management of resources and engaging actively on issues that require an international response.
The EEA says the economic downturn and fluctuations in world commodity prices have led to a slowdown in investments in the Arctic, providing more time to develop clean technologies and implement stronger standards for the region.